Tough Division Stretch Ramps Up
B's are in the midst of a four-game divisional stretch that continues with Toronto tonight
BostonBruins.com – ‘Every point counts’ is a familiar refrain for NHLers, but it has never been as true as it is this season. With just 48 games, the importance for racking up points has been at an all-time high, and the Bruins know that with less than half of that 48-game schedule left to play, playoff positioning is starting to take shape.
Starting with the win against Ottawa on Thursday night, and including tonight’s game against Toronto, the Bruins are in the midst of four straight (and six of seven) against Northeast Divsion opponents. Winning those games means a four-point swing in the division standings.
To this stage of the season, the Black & Gold have played well within the division, going 7-3-0, including wins in both matchups against Toronto. The first game resulted in a 1-0 Bruins win in Toronto, and the second, just over two weeks ago in Boston, saw the B’s come out on top, 4-2.
Regardless of the success the B’s have had against Toronto recently (they swept last season’s series 6-0), Head Coach Claude Julien can see the changes in the Maple Leafs, and they are all good.
“Absolutely,” said the B’s bench boss, when asked if there were differences in the team’s games against Toronto this year. “It's not so much that we've changed, I think they've changed. It shows, also, in the standings, it shows in the results. they've brought in some different players, they've got a different system to what it used to be.
“This is Randy [Caryle’s] team now. He coaches a certain style and it seems to suit them well. I think every time we've played them it's been good games, tough games. I said it all along, they're on the right track.
“If people here are patient, they're going to see a good team down the road that's going to get better and better.”
Coach also said that it will be important to build off of Thursday’s win over Ottawa.
“I didn't think we played well for 60 [minutes], but, honestly, the last 20 were a lot more the image of our hockey club,” said Julien of his team’s effort against the Senators. “It's been a struggle for us a little bit, to play as well as we'd like our team to play. We're going through the bumps along the way, but the one thing we wanted to do was battle through it.
“I thought we did a good job in Ottawa, and by the third period, we seemed a little bit more like our team. I guess the important thing right now is to try and carry that into tonight's game.”
One area of the Bruins game that has been consistently good for 60 minutes is the goaltending. Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin have led the Bruins all season, and with both playing well it has given Julien quite the luxury.
“I think, certainly, approach it in a happy way because that's what you want with a game every second night and the amount of games we have left in a little bit of time,” Julien said, when asked how he will approach choosing a starting goalie tonight.
“You need both goaltenders to be good, and both of them have been. It's not a problem, it's a great situation for us and I'm going to continue to take advantage of it.”
Tyler Seguin has 10 goals and six assists in 14 career games against the Leafs, but said there isn’t any extra motivation playing against Toronto. The Bruins will play the same tonight as they do against any other opponent.
“I don't know if I look at it too much,” said Seguin, of his success against Toronto. “I think you try to go into every game with the same approach, the same mentality, and never take teams lightly, obviously. We always seem to get up for these games, so I hope we don't change that tonight.”